February 07, 2012

Fairfax County Epic

This past weekend, Mike, Dylan and I changed up our weekly long ride and did the Fairfax County Epic loop.  Apparently, the full loop would take around 10 hours, but we didn't hit one of the parks and came in at a respectable 7-8 hours for the ride.  Not bad for early February!

Mike met up with Dylan at his house in McLean and they rode to Falls Church where they met up with me and Ian Spivak from DCMTB.  We rode the Fairfax County Parkway in a four man paceline at a speed I don't normally hit on my road bike.  My Garmin showed us rarely going slower than 25mph

Once at Fountainhead Park, we saw masses of people in the lot wanting to ride the newly constructed trails.

The Fountainhead Project (www.fountainheadproject.org) has developed and built an awesome set of new trails with IMBA's assistance.  The redesign transforms the network from non-sustainable, eroded trails, to well constructed, sustainable, fun and flowing singletrack.  The opening loop keeps me smiling -- it's worth doing it again and again.

If you have time, check out their site and make a donation to keep the trail work going.  I guess I'm somewhat partial as they've used a photo of me in their site image (riding my black Spark 10).

Hopped up from our road ride, we charged into the loop and hit the new Jackrabbit trail at full speed, flying over the new trail features (including a ladder bridge jump) at pretty close to full race-pace. Learning the new sections of trail blind was the way to go - I think I would have hesitated on one or two of the larger jumps had I known what was coming.

After two fast laps at Fountainhead, we got back on the roads and hit up a local store to get some more water and food for the long ride back on the Fairfax Cross Country trail.  We rode the trail network at Laurel Hill, the site of a former prison, that has been repurposed into fast and flowing singletrack.  (It reminded me of sections of the Sea Otter Classic with rolling hills and grassland.)  There was also a small skills park that we had some fun rolling through.

After a loop at Laurel Hill, we headed north on the CCT through some cool looking water crossings to Lake Accotink Park, where we rode yet more short steep hill singletrack.

By this point, we'd been on the bike for 6-7 hours and we all were getting tired (except for Dylan - he never seems to slow down!).  After Accotink, we continued on the CCT to Wakefield Park and rode more singletrack and out again on the CCT toward the huge dirt jumps.

By this point, we were all pretty cooked and it was starting to rain.  The skies had been threatening all day, and when the rain came, the temperature started to drop from a high of 48 to just about 38 degrees.  It was not a good time to be out on the bike.  Thankfully, we all made it home OK, though it took me a few hours to warm up afterward.

We skipped riding further north on the the CCT where it goes through Lake Fairfax and to Great Falls, but we could have added another 20+ miles to our ride.  As it was, we got in about 70-75 miles (Dylan rode an extra 1.5 hours on top of what we rode), with a good percentage of it on singletrack.

Here's the data from Strava (my GPS didn't get all of the loop):

Next weekend we're going to try for the full loop.  Maybe 10 hours and 90-100 miles on Sunday.  I hope we get some dry weather!

- Jeff

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